Thursday, December 30, 2010

i always liked the book/movie title "cold mountain" because it reminds me of where my mom's from in southwest virginia where the coal mines once completely left town, where tragedy seems to strike constantly in the remote and isolated town, where my mom was the oldest of ten and really was a "coal miner's daughter" (although she's completely completely tone deaf so no country music career for her). one of my aunts is in a diabetic coma thanks to a foot infection that stemmed from an idiot doctor (and i thought i'd seen some idiot doctors) who kept operating on her foot for minor things (as if, in her late 50s she was a professional athlete whose livelihood depended on fixing such things rather than wearing pads in her shoes, etc), ignored an infection...and now 5 weeks after open heart surgery she lies in a diabetic coma while they try to get her body stable enough to have her go through another remove her foot.

meanwhile my aunt's husband has an extreme neurological condition that goes without a name because no one in that area knows of anything besides MS and it's not that (they think) and they are the adopted parents of my 2nd cousin whose mom died in a head-on collision on a snowy mountain and thus making him my 1st and 2nd cousin. and the violence that runs in his biological father and his family seems to have manifested in him (he was two when his mom died but there may have been some environmental imprinting but it's probably more likely a nature/nurture combination.

this year...this 2010 with all it's tragedy from the start of the year until the end. i almost didn't make it though (and, well, let's hope i'm not jinxing myself my declaring the year over before it is not over yet. there. that should un-jinx what i just said). i remember being asked a few months back to write a short opinion piece for a magazine right after i returned from china, disgusted by how some gamers treat other gamers if they learn who they are playing against or who might be posting in an online gaming forum has a disability...i wrote a piece where the moral of the story was, yes, people need to stop being such assholes online to complete strangers and just at least treat people -- even if you don't want a person on your team because of one reason or another -- with dignity. because you never know -- you really don't know what will happen next in your may become that person some day just hoping for some human connection through gaming.

the editor threw the piece right back in my face. yes, even i had said it needed work and i was struggling with a deep depression so dark at the time that a day or so's deadline wasn't easy for me considering even getting up off the floor and taking a shower was a big ass victory. i was told "what the hell is this? is the message 'be nice to people because you never know how the human behind the gamertag is going to react?'" uh, yeah...pretty much. it was a call for people to cut the crap and think before they rip someone a new one because the anonymity runs two ways -- they don't know you and you don't know them. and when someone says "hey, i have XYZ but i'd like to be able to play a game with others" don't tell them that they should "fuck off" and/or "die."

ironically, the editor missed the message too...and in a couple page long email told me off in not-so-plain language and...

you'd think i'd be used to it but that was it for me. that email back was too cold, too heartless, too irresponsible. and this was something i wasn't getting paid for either -- just a message to say how we treat each other online is really shitty and that making an accessible experience is NOT just something in the hand's of the developers. i've been in the game accessibility business for about 14 years now. i've pretty much heard it all, with a lot of hatred headed straight my way for even suggesting to game developers that they should give a shit. things are slowly improving. but it's not just the industry -- the players are a part of "the game" as well and in online social games...well, how we act changes the way the game goes. no, i'm not suggesting that "smack talk" goes away -- that's part of the game experience too. but it's one thing when you do it to someone you actually know in real life and you know how they are handling it and it's all in fun. but to start out by telling a complete stranger to fuck off and die? are you sure that's not a kid you just said that to? or someone just looking to have fun, perhaps to life their spirits...or just simply enjoy one of the things that makes life worth living?

so, yeah, it's easy to rip apart someone in the cold mountain of online games, email, facebook postings, etc -- you don't know them. psych experiments have shown us that we can act the way we act because we believe it's expected of us, that we believe we're not really the problem -- we're just doing what we've been told. hell, history has taught us that much. be careful and be responsible. believe it or not? you aren't the only one on the planet.

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